This week, we chat to John Livesey, the manager of Klaxon Productions.
Could you tell us a bit about how you got involved in Oxford drama?
It can be scary to start ‘doing drama’ at Oxford – it feels like people know each other already, and you are just some strange, quiet fresher. I was really lucky that the first show I got involved in (Edward II) had a very big, very friendly company full of drama stalwarts. It meant I didn’t think twice next time I was going for an audition. This is my first go at directing but I very much hope to do it again, you won’t get rid of me that easily!
What’s your happiest memory of drama at Oxford?
I’m not even halfway through my degree so I hope there will be a few more moments to choose from if you ask me again in a year! Currently though, some of my happiest memories have been from Random. It’s such a great team and we have a lot of fun, despite the serious subject matter. Fran and I have a similar sense of humour. The artistic eureka-moments we’ve had has made it a very special process.
Have you ever had any complete production nightmares?
I’ve had a few very bad dress-rehearsals. I’ve been in a show that had only rehearsed for a week. The worst was probably a cast-mate missing their cue completely, forcing me to skip 2 or 3 pages: nobody noticed but my heart relocated to Cuba for about 5 minutes.
What’s your favourite play?
Superlatives don’t do justice to the diversity of work out there. I can recommend some good ones though – Big & Small by Botho Strauss, Another Country by Julian Mitchell, An Octaroon by Branden Jacob-Jenkins, The Flick by Annie Baker. Oh, and Angels in America (I say this pre-empting the collective eye-roll).
How would you want to stage it if you had to put it on in Oxford?
Some of these might actually find their way to the stage so I don’t want to give any spoilers: that’s just bad marketing…
Who’s your inspiration?
Ben Whishaw is a role model for me, although that might just be because I have a crush on him! I try not to miss Robert Icke’s shows, and Tarell Alvin McCraney too. I also have the utmost respect for the way Rufus Norris is changing the game at the National. I also find my friends inspiring, back home and in Oxford. I think there’s something rad about understanding that those around you can be just as inspirational as any schmaltzy a-lister.
Do you have any advice for freshers who want to get involved?
Audition. Audition again. Audition again. And if you’re a director? Just risk it: submit the bid and see where the journey takes you. It’ll be horrible, amazing, dreadful and mind-expanding – the best fun you’ll have in this crazy place.
Are you working on any exciting projects at the moment that you can tell us about?
Once we’re done with Random I need a sit down with a hot mug of cocoa. However, KLAXON are also getting started on a bid for Hilary and there are some other things I hope to pursue when I have more time. Going to lectures is another honorable goal, but I don’t want to offer false hope.